Slamming the phone on complexity

Ever had an embittered laugh at how difficult it can be to get a business phone system and, assuming you managed to get that right, use it to make a call or heavens forbid, attempt a conference?

It’s one of the craziest contradictions in today’s hyper-connected world. We have astounding advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, smartphones providing access to the sum total of human knowledge…and yet a decent business telecoms system is still hard to find and even harder to use.

This is precisely why I’ve shredded the telecoms rule book at Connexus. We’ve just overhauled our brand to take out the complexity (and the frustration) after speaking with a number of small businesses about their challenges when it comes to dealing with telcos.

You know the story. Either you’re required to buy a stupidly expensive PABX which doesn’t work all that well anyway, or you get an IP-based system which turns out to be far too complicated. And doesn’t work too well either.

The problems don’t stop there. Controlling costs is a nightmare, integrating VoIP with standard landlines is either perplexing or seemingly impossible, you’re never quite sure what you’re paying for (but are in a perfect position to appreciate that it’s a lot), and you’re never quite sure what you’re actually getting. Setting the whole shebang up is an unwieldy task only to be repeated every time someone new comes on board.

Now, there is a (kind of) good reason why what seems like ‘simple’ telecoms is often still stupidly complicated. That really boils down to the fact that modern systems are indeed complex. There’s a lot happening behind your simple phone call, especially when it’s carried over the internet.

But this is no excuse. The telephone was invented before the motor car; cars these days are marvels of complexity, but they’re pretty easy to use and you don’t have to know how an engine works to drive one.

Added to that, smartphones are the embodiment of “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. If the motor industry and smartphone makers could do it and provide an engaging user experience, communications solutions providers should be able to do it for your business, too.

After all, for small businesses – or any business for that matter – the hassle is unacceptable. You’ve got a business to run. Communicating effectively should be the least of your worries.

Simply put, there should be an app for that. After all, that’s how a ton of other amazing services are made easy, intuitive and dare I say it obvious to use. What you need is a solution you can set up and use within minutes, without a technical expert. Just like your new smartphone.

You need an app which makes it simple and intuitive to control when, how and where customers can reach your or your staff members. And doing stuff like transferring calls isn’t actually a dark art and nor shouldn’t require some tricky combination of keystrokes – this, and multiple other advanced features like voicemail to email – should just happen. The same goes for visibility of performance and costs. It should just be there.

That’s what I mean by ripping up the rule book. Everywhere else, we see the complex being made simple, accessible and a joy to use. Telco for small business should be no different.

Lee Atkinson, GM Small Business and Channel Partners, MNF Group

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